Donald Trump doubled down on his attacks Friday of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University, insisting his "Mexican heritage" makes him incapable of doing his job.
"He's a Mexican," Trump said in a CNN interview. "We're building a wall between here and Mexico."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been ramping up attacks against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana to parents who migrated from Mexico.
Pushed by CNN host Jake Tapper as to why his attacks have been focused on Curiel's ethnic background, instead of on his judgment or professionalism, Trump didn't mince words.
"He's of Mexican heritage," the presidential candidate said. "I have a case that should have been dismissed."
Trump has repeatedly criticized the judge's decisions, insinuating that his Mexican heritage makes him automatically biased against Trump, who has advocated for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said Curiel's heritage and membership in a Latino lawyer's association presented an “absolute conflict." Prominent lawyers and legal scholars have spoken out against Trump's comments.
On Friday, Trump appeared to go one step further, and specifically said it was Curiel's ethnicity and background that tainted his judgement.
"I think that's why he's doing it," Trump said.
"But he's not from Mexico, he's from Indiana," Tapper replied.
"He's of Mexican heritage, and he's very proud of it," Trump said.
The candidate again said his stance to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border makes Curiel biased against him.
"I'm building a wall, OK?" Trump said. "I'm building a wall. I'm trying to keep business out of Mexico."
"Isn't that the definition of racism?" Tapper asked, pointing out that Trump's criticism was based on his background, not Curiel's legal judgement.
"No, not at all," Trump said.
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Salvador Hernandez at email@example.com.
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